The Saturday Special – June 18

- -

Deep breath. The Triple Crown and spring steeplechase season in the books, and now less than four weeks until Opening Day of Saratoga.

Hot Rod Charlie tackles the Salvator Mile Saturday.
Joe Labozzetta/EQUI-PHOTO

We’re revving up at our ST Publishing outposts in Fair Hill, Middleburg and Saratoga Springs, readying for the 40-day season and Issue 1 of The Saratoga Special. We have 20 on tap again for 2022 and hopefully plenty of great stories to tell.

Meanwhile racing rolls along. The final day of the Royal Ascot meeting goes Saturday along with what they’re calling Haskell Preview Day at Monmouth Park. Four stakes top the card at the Jersey Shore, including the finale with the return of Hot Rod Charlie. We cover those and more in the rundown below, plus reports from our handicappers.

Have a great weekend and enjoy next week’s solstice. The days only get shorter from there.  

By the Numbers
26: Days until Opening Day at Saratoga.

46,301: Attendance for last Saturday’s Belmont Stakes.

98,766,906: Total handle in dollars for Belmont Stakes Day, down from the non-Triple Crown year record of $112,725,278 reported after last year’s edition.

50,248,624: All-sources handle in dollars on the Belmont Stakes in 2022, down from $60,459,330 last year. 

9,530,303: Dollars in on-track handle for this year’s Belmont Stakes Day, up from $7,532,571 in 2021.

1,000: Wins at Churchill Downs for jockey Julien Leparoux after he rode the Ian Wilkes-trained Walkathon to victory in the Grade 3 Regret Stakes June 4. He’s one of five riders to record 1,000 wins in Louisville.

17.1: Percentage increase in purses for the second quarter of 2022 compared to 2021 – $125,070,907 to $106,817,021 – according to Equibase Co.

6.86: Field size during the second quarter of 2022, down from 7.13 in the corresponding period last year.

150,000: Dollars (and then some) raised during the second New Vocations All-Thoroughbred Charity Horse Show, Presented by Iris Smith Stables, LLC, at Highlands Event Center in Aiken June 3-6

The Saratoga Special’s Plays of the Day
Down Royal. Race 1. 9:00 a.m. Regally Blonde caught our eye while dancing in the shadows of a Curragh maiden June 1. Does she come out of hiding here?

Royal Ascot. Race 7. 1:10 p.m. Urban Artist wins the finale.

Riverdee Stable’s Names of the Day
We Could Be Heroes. Newmarket. Race 1. A regal name for a regal concept. Come on, be someone’s hero.

Bezos. Belmont Park. Race 2. The 4-year-old is by Empire Maker.

Worth Repeating
“She ran great. I could not be more proud of her. William [Buick] had her in the perfect spot; she was very brave to hang on for second. The winner’s very good.”
Trainer Graham Motion after New York-bred Spendarella finished second to Inspiral in the Group 1 Coronation Stakes Friday at Royal Ascot

“Spendarella is a Grade 1 filly and she proved that today. … I don’t come over here just for the hell of it. I have to feel good about it to come. We’ve run second a couple of times now [in this race], so I feel like I know what it takes. We don’t have many opportunities in the States, which is kind of why this race made sense, this early in the season, and I think she’s really a miler, so we didn’t miss out on much in the States.”
Motion on Spendarella

“The cooking pays for my horse bills.”
Celebrity chef and owner-breeder Bobby Flay at Royal Ascot Thursday

“We got together and I said, ‘Let’s go buy us a nice one.’ We bought him and he was a little expensive but Coach said, ‘I never get beat in Lexington,’ ”
Trainer Dallas Stewart on recent Churchill winner Strava, who is co-owned by former University of Louisville men’s basketball coach Denny Crum, WinStar Farm and Siena Farm

“Let’s just say everyone in the barn did very well that day.”
Trainer Mike Tomlinson after Conagher won at 8-5, down from his 7-2 morning line June 3 at Churchill

“I enjoy every horse I ride. That’s my happiness and my joy. I’m blessed to be here. To get 3,000 winners is a lot for me. I never imagined I would be here, but we’re here and we just enjoy the moment. I’m blessed it happened at Belmont, a place I always dreamed of. This is the biggest deal for me.”
Jockey Luis Saez, after winning his 3,000th race June 5

Saratoga Job Fair
Looking for a summer side hustle? Check out NYRA’s second job fair of the season Thursday, June 23 through Saturday, June 25 for those interested in working at the Saratoga Race Course meeting for the summer meeting.

The job fair will be conducted at Saratoga Race Course inside the 1863 Club on Thursday, June 23 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Friday, June 24 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; and Saturday, June 25 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Job seekers should enter through the clubhouse gates at the intersection of Wright Street and Frank Sullivan Way. Parking will be available at the clubhouse lot.

Opportunities at the job fair will include: hospitality ambassadors; guest services; cashiers; parking attendants; ticket scanners; Bets Squad representatives; white caps/ushers; box office; betting clerks; parking attendants; technology interns; security guards; porters; cooks; waitstaff; bussers; merchandise clerks; concessions supervisors and cashiers; cleaners; and warehouse workers.

 Positions are available with NYRA, Integrated Staffing, Levy Restaurants, Mazzone Hospitality, AmTote International, Dyehard Fan Supply, AllPro and Union Square Events, among others.

 Applicants must be at least 15 years of age and have New York State Certified Working Papers. Prospective security guards, cashiers and betting clerks must be at least 18 years of age to apply and security guards must have a high school degree or GED. All applicants must present a photo ID and Social Security card or I-9 alternative.

 Highlighted by the 153rd renewal of the Grade 1, $1.25 million Runhappy Travers on August 27 and the Grade 1, $1 million Whitney on August 6, the 2022 summer meet at historic Saratoga Race Course will open on Thursday, July 14, and continue through Monday, September 5.

 Following the four-day opening weekend, racing will be conducted five days a week, Wednesdays through Sundays, apart from the final week, when the meet will conclude on Labor Day.

For more information about Saratoga Race Course visit   

Handicapper’s Report
Charles Bedard bested seven others during our Triple Crown season handicapping challenge, picking 18 winners over the three weekends. Charles tabbed four winners on Belmont Stakes Day – Mo Donegal in the headliner, Clairiere in the Ogden Phipps, Jack Christopher in the Woody Stephens and Regal Glory in the Just A Game.

John Shapazian and Tom Law finished tied for second with 14 wins apiece, one better than Joe Clancy and Rob Whitlock. Sean Clancy finished sixth with 12 wins while Jessica Paquette (11) and Paul Halloran (10) completed the field.

Handicapper’s Corner
The weeks are winding away and race for top winter and spring handicapper remains somewhat in doubt. Tom Law leads the way with just four editions of The Saturday Special remaining before we roll out The Power Grid handicapping page in The Saratoga Special for the summer meeting. Tom heads into Saturday’s 14-race Haskell Preview Day card with 58 winners from 222 races, nine clear of John Shapazian, Rob Whitlock and Jessica Paquette. Charles Bedard is 11 back with 47 wins.

Here are the picks for Saturday, June 18 at Monmouth. Good luck.

John Shapazian (49/222):
1-Mystery Mo, Kozy’s Wildcat, Violent Pass.
2-Spun And Won, Powerfully Built, Stratofortress.
3-Town Classic, Pointer, Hushion.
4-Any Point, Times Goes Fast, Pegasus In Flight.
5-Jersey Jewel, D’tiger Lily, Muzzle Tough.
6-Major Dude, Delegated, Ee Yah.
7-Food Bank Helper, Papi Bello, Hard Knocking.
8-J’s Indian Charm, Shackleford County, Captain Sam.
9-There Are No Words, Magical Jamie, Ohana Empire.
10-Little Miss Sassy, Luscious, Itsy Bitsy Betty.
11-Vigilantes Way, Lemista, Stolen Holiday.
12-Electability, Home Brew, Dash Attack.
13-Public Sector, Sacred Life, Ever Dangerous.
14-Hot Rod Charlie, Mind Control, Shirl’s Speight.

Tom Law (58/222):
1-Banco Maria, Meru, Bourbon Rebellion.
2-Stratofortress, Spun And Won, Feast.
3-Love Nest, Hushion, The Big S.
4-Time Goes Fast, Pegasus In Flight, Grace In Motion.
5-Jersey Jewel, Princess Georgia, Mia’s Crusade.
6-Delegated, Major Dude, Notah.
7-Hard Knocking, Papi Bello, Ludo.
8-Shackleford County, Captain Sam, Capturini.
9-There Are No Words, Saltin’ The Rim, Ohana Empire.
10-Tasty Wave, Nonna Patrizia, Little Miss Sassy.
11-Fluffy Socks, Vigilantes Way, Princess Grace.
12-Home Brew, Dash Attack, Electability.
13-Safe Conduct, Sacred Life, Ever Dangerous.
14-Hot Rod Charlie, Mind Control, Helium.

Charles Bedard (47/222):
1-Mystery Mo, Bourbon Rebellion, Branco Maria.
2-Stratofortress, Powerfully Built, Feast.
3-Town Classic, Hushion, Love Nest.
4-Only Girl, Pegasus In Flight, Times Goes Fast.
5-Jersey Jewel, Mia’s Crusade, Princess Georgia.
6-Major Dude, Delegated, Notah.
7-Hard Knocking, Bob In Our Midst, Food Bank Helper.
8-Shackleford County, J’s Indian Charm, Capturini.
9-There Are No Words, Next Cowboy Up, Sand Dune.
10-Little Miss Sassy, Luscious, Tasty Wave.
11-Fluffy Socks, Whimsical Muse, Vigilantes Way.
12-Electability, Dash Attack, Home Brew.
13-Public Sector, Tax, Yes This Time.
14-Shirl’s Speight, Mind Control, Phat Man.

Rob Whitlock (49/222):
1-Mystery Mo, Meru, Branco Maria.
2-Stratofortress, Feast, Spun And Won.
3-Love Nest, Tapsolute, Town Classic.
4-Francia, Pegasus In Flight, Time Goes Fast.
5-Jersey Jewel, Muzzle Tough, Princess Georgia.
6-Major Dude, Ee Yah, Delegated.
7-Hard Knocking, Ludo, Food Bank Helper.
8-J’s Indian Charm, Captain Sam, Seahawk Lisa.
9-Pal, Magical Jaime, Ohana Empire.
10-Tasty Wave, Nonna Patrizia, Little Miss Sassy.
11-Princess Grace, Vigilantes Way, Lemista.
12-Home Brew, Electability, Cooke Creek.
13-Tax, Public Sector, Ever Dangerous.
14-Hot Rod Charlie, Mind Control, Phat Man.

Jessica Paquette (49/222):
1-Branco Mari, Violent Pass, Kozy’s Wildcat.
2-Stratofortress, Spun And Won, He’s Smokin Now.
3-Town Classic, Tapsolute, Love Nest.
4-Any Port, Pegasus In Flight, Tracker Jacker.
5-Jersey Jewel, Muzzle Tough, Princess Georgia.
6-Major Dude, Delegated, Ee Yah.
7-Hard Knocking, Yah Huh, Ludo.
8-J’s Indian Charm, Shackleford County, Captain Sam.
9-Hit Me I’m Lucky, Sand Dude, Ohana Empire.
10-Nonna Patrizia, Tasty Wave, Little Miss Sassy.
11-Lemista, Vigilante’s Way, Princess Grace.
12-Home Brew, Mr Jefferson, Cooke Creek.
13-Public Sector, Tax, Sacred Life.
14-Shirl’’s Speight, Hot Rod Charlie, Mind Control.

As for the races…
Auteuil. Race 1. 3:20 a.m. Can’t sleep? Here you go. The jump card starts with the Al Capone II Chase.

Royal Ascot. Race 1. 9:30. The final day of a fantastic week. Alfred Munnings leads the betting in the opener, the Chesham. Check out these conditions, “For 2-year-olds, whose sire or dam won a race of a mile and a quarter or over.” That’s how you instill stamina into your breed.

Royal Ascot. Race 2. 10:05. The undefeated Monaadah and Samburu take their next steps up the steepest ladder in the Jersey Stakes. 

Royal Ascot. Race 3. 10:40. Three-time Group 1 winner Hurricane Lane, at 3-5, makes his 4-year-old debut in the Hardwicke.

Royal Ascot. Race 4. 11:20. Ireland. Great Britain. Australia. Japan. United States. A 27 deep, clash of clashes in the Group 1 Platinum Jubilee.

Down Royal. Race 5. 11:25. A quick jaunt to Ireland for the Ulster Derby, an extended handicap at 1 5/8 miles.

Royal Ascot. Race 5. Noon. Thirty strong in the Wokingham.

Royal Ascot. Race 6. 12:35 p.m. Dart. Dartboard. The Golden Gate Stakes.

Royal Ascot. Race 7. 1:10. The Queen Alexandra Stakes brings down the curtain and stretches 14 runners to their limits at 2 3/4 miles. Yes, that’s right, 2 3/4 miles. 

Monmouth Park. Race 6. 2:30. Four-time Belmont Stakes-winning trainer Todd Pletcher sends out firsters Delegated and Major Dude off string of workouts on the Oklahoma Training Track in Saratoga. They’ll be tough in 5-furlong maiden for 2-year-olds.

Belmont Park. Race 6. 3:27. Masen blasted field in Seek Again last time out after close second in the Grade 1 Maker’s Mark Mile for Juddmonte and Chad Brown. He looks tough against just four others in the Grade 3 Poker at 1 mile on the grass.

Gulfstream Park. Race 7. 3:44. Freedom Speaks impressed winning debut on the synthetic last month. Now she moves to the main track for the $75,000 Game Face at 6 1/2 furlongs.

Monmouth. Race 11. 4:47. First of four stakes to close the card, the Grade 3 Eatontown for fillies and mares on the grass. Whimsical Muse and Vigilantes Way were 1-2 in the local prep, the former at 25-1. She could be a big price again with Princess Grace, Lemista and Fluffy Socks in the field.

Santa Anita Park. Race 3. 5:00. Tom’s Regret returns home after shipping to Churchill to win the Kentucky Juvenile during Oaks-Derby Week. She’s 2-for-2 and takes on Rousing Jewel, E Z Pharis and others in the $100,000 Fasig-Tipton Debutante.

Monmouth. Race 12. 5:19. Home Brew won the Oaklawn Stakes last time off layoff and looks to stay on course for potential Haskell bid in the Pegasus Stakes. Electability, Dash Attack and Mr Jefferson also in the field.

Monmouth. Race 13. 5:47. Back to the grass for the Grade 3 Monmouth. Chad Brown invades with Public Sector and Sacred Life but they aren’t locks against good group that includes Yes This Time, T D Dance, Ever Dangerous, Safe Conduct, Glynn County and others.

Chippewa Downs. Race 8. 6:00. Chippewa Downs doesn’t come on our radar very much – if ever? – but when there’s a New York-bred in the $8,175 Chippewa Downs Open Stakes we’ll pay attention. What a journey for the 6-year-old Freud gelding Freudian Sip, who ran in his native New York from 2019 to the summer of 2021 before meandering his way through Evangeline Downs, Delta Downs, Sam Houston, Fonner Park and now Chippewa Downs.

Churchill Downs. Race 1. 6:00. Hopefully the heat subsides some for the latest Downs After Dark card.

Monmouth. Race 14. 6:15. Mind Control returns to two-turn mile in the Grade 3 Salvator Mile, which also marks the comeback of last year’s Grade 1 Haskell winner Hot Rod Charlie.

Santa Anita. Race 7. 7:08. Blue Stripe looks to follow up her win in the Grade 2 Santa Margarita in the Grade 2 Santa Maria. Private Mission, off since the Grade 3 Las Flores in March; and Grade 1-winning New York-bred Varda, third in the Santa Margarita, are also in the field of six.

Churchill. Race 5. 7:57. Society improved to 2-for-2 on Oaks Day and goes for a third win here in the $160,000 Monomoy Girl Overnight, a 1 1/16-mile event on the main track for 3-year-old fillies.

Santa Anita. Race 11. 9:13. Absolutely Zero ran to her odds last month and takes next step in $100,000 Fasig-Tipton Futurity against the boys.

Charles Town Races. Race 7. 10:02. Full field of 10, along with two on the also-eligible list, for the $75,000 Fancy Buckles for West Virginia-bred fillies and mares. We’ll take a shot with Our Diamond Girl, she’s 9-for-16 locally.

Churchill. Race 10. 10:42. Tarabi, second in the Grade 1 Spinaway and Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies, makes her belated sophomore debut in $127,000 allowance-optional at 7 furlongs.  

Churchill. Race 11. 11:10. They’re not done yet. Here’s a $120,000 maiden for fillies and mares to close the card. Get some sleep, Sunday comes soon.